For a while in the 1980s, ‘Muscle Beach’ was a place synonymous in the minds of many with the very peak of physical fitness. It was the nickname given to a famous open air workout space on Venice Beach in California, then frequented by a young Arnold Schwarzenegger and other massive acquaintances.
It was not a place with any shortage of testosterone.
We know now of course that the impressive physiques and abilities of Muscle Beach regulars were likely helped, at least in part, by what they frequently had above their heads. On this occasion I’m not talking about the 200 plus pounds of iron, rather I’m referring to the 200 plus days of sunshine which Los Angeles experiences each year.
The sun is the richest naturally occurring source of vitamin D there is and this is important. Vitamin D has long been associated with increasing performance enhancing testosterone. In light of a new study which has provided further evidence of a link between the two, this article aims to explore how we can benefit from it.
Aside from stimulating test, this fat-soluble vitamin – best taken in the form of cholecalciferol, commonly known as vitamin D3 – is vitally important for everyone, regardless of age or gender, because it allows the body to efficiently absorb calcium, helping to build and sustain strong bones.
It also has a role to play in regulating the immune system. Though vitamin D is present in some foods such as eggs, meat and oily fish, the sun remains our best natural source for replenishing supplies, as exposure to the Ultraviolet B element of direct sunlight provokes the skin to start producing it. This process still accounts for 90% of our reserves.
Such solar powered supplementation is great if you happen to live south of Atlanta, for the rest of us this could have have serious medical implications.
This very month in Britain the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), an independent advisory body to the UK government, recommended that the general public consider taking vitamin D supplements to guard against deficiency. In months of the year when there is little or no sunshine vitamin D creation has been shown to slow dramatically or even stop all together, leaving our immune systems exposed and far more susceptible to specific ailments such as rickets, low mood, brittle bone disease and even, some have suggested, multiple sclerosis.
In June 2015 a research team from the American Urological Association examined blood samples from 824 men who had participated in the World Trade Centre CHEST program. They tested a range of biomarkers and found the tie between 25-hydroxyvitamin D and overall testosterone levels.
68% of the men being looked at had naturally low levels of vitamin D – defined as below 30 ng/L – only 11% of whom subsequently took vitamin D supplements to amend the deficiency. The analysis found that the men who had taken steps to increase their vitamin D had total testosterone levels that averaged 341.7 ng/L, while those who had taken no action had 319.6 ng/L.
Authors of this latest study suggested while presenting their findings at the American Urological Association conference in New Orleans, that the body needs vitamin D to sustain optimum testosterone levels and that poor supplies could put an artificial limit on production of the hormone in some men.
These findings seem to reinforce those of a small but noteworthy trial by a German research team, aimed at discovering whether vitamin D supplementation could indeed boost testosterone. There results showed a significant increase in in total testosterone levels (25%), relative to a placebo group which saw no change.
The Vitamin D Council – a team of scientists from various fields who fill their days with vitamin D so that we know just how much to fill our bodies with – have settled conclusively on 5,000 IU/day.
This latest figure is an attempt to get levels as close as possible to what our production would be if we all had ideal access to regular sun exposure. The Vitamin D Council chose 5,000 IU/day because it meets a number of generally helpful criteria: not only will it get most people above 40ng/ml it will do so without any danger of toxicity.
There’s no doubt that vitamin D is a ray of hope for those with lower testosterone. Research is continuing to emerge all the time which reaffirms and strengthens our understanding of the bond between healthy D3 supplies and higher testosterone.
Even if you have the opportunity for plenty of sun, it’s important to be mindful of the dangers of over exposure. For these reasons many prefer to get the target amount of vitamin D from a specifically portioned supplement.